Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Program has reached another milestone, with the keel laying for its fifth offshore patrol vessel (OPV) in Henderson, Western Australia September 27th.

A coin was positioned under the keel of OPV 5 (Illawarra) – the first of many traditions for a Navy ship.

“A keel laying is an important naval tradition that brings good luck to the build of the ship and the life of the vessel,” Deputy Secretary of National Naval Shipbuilding, Tony Dalton said.

“We welcome this major milestone in the delivery of Australia’s future Arafura class offshore patrol vessels.”

Luerssen Australia, the prime shipbuilding contractor, will deliver 12 offshore patrol vessels to the Royal Australian Navy.

The first two vessels were constructed at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia. The first ship was launched in December 2021, and the second ship is currently undergoing outfitting.

The remaining 10 vessels will be constructed at Henderson Maritime Precinct in Western Australia, with the build of four ships already underway.

“This program will contribute to continuous naval shipbuilding, creating Australian jobs, and assuring the long-term sustainability of this key Australian industry,” Dalton said.

Defence investment in a sovereign Naval Shipbuilding and Sustainment Enterprise will support up to 15,000 Australian jobs by the end of the decade.